Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy

Breaking down the best hitting performances from yesterday’s games.

Chris Taylor (LAD): 3-4, 2B, 2 HR, 4 R, 3 RBI, BB.

Chris Taylor has been a fantastic surprise this season. Despite his inconsistent playing time and super utility role, Taylor has shown consistency at the plate since his first full season in 2017. He always has a K% in the mid to upper 20s, a walk rate of about nine percent (until 2020 when that jumped to 12%), a BABIP around .350, and an average around .270. Nothing has drastically changed from year to year except that walk rate I had mentioned, and some other underlying statistics that seem to be correlated.

First off, he cut down on his chase rate to be in the lower 20s instead of mid to upper 20s. This looks pretty straightforward. He’s more patient and is drawing more walks. This also let’s him see more pitches he wants to hit. His zone contact rate has been about the same, however, and even a bit lower than seasons prior to 2020. This brings me to the other huge change in Taylor from the start of 2020. His hard hit rate spiked to over 40%, along with his barrel rate to 11%. He used to not hit the ball hard often, at just 32.3% in 2019, while 2020 he saw a 45% hard hit rate. His rolling average of hard hit % over the last 50 batted balls shows that since the end of 2019 Taylor has been consistently around 40% and above with only a couple dips to 30%. Before then he would be living around the 30% range and spike up to mid 40s only a couple of times. He looks to have changed his approach at the plate in a big way which is resulting in a career year.

I see Taylor continuing his success for the remainder of the year.

Let’s see how the other hitters did Tuesday:

Matt Olson (OAK): 2-3, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB.

This man is continuing his huge breakout year with another home run, just over the right field wall. He has completely slashed his K% down from 31.4% to 16.1% while also spraying the ball around the field instead of just exclusively pulling it. Matt Wallach has a full article on Olson going up later today, so I do not want to spoil anything further as that will be an excellent read.

Yoán Moncada (CWS): 3-4, 2B, HR, R, 2 RBI.

Moncada was hitting lasers everywhere last night. He had three hits all above 103 MPH and one ground out at 99.5 MPH. His homer travelled 411 feet while the double was a 384 footer half way up the wall in left center. The power he showed in 2019 hasn’t seemed to be there both this year and last. His HR/FB has been around 13% the last two seasons but this season his fly ball rate has been under 30%. His line drive rate however, is 29.1%. That is a big factor in his .374 BABIP. At least his hard hit rate is back over 40% too.

Max Kepler (MIN): 2-4, HR, R, RBI, SB.

Our favorite German ball player has had a rough go this year with a few injuries keeping him out of action for a couple weeks here and there. And after the All Star break Kepler struggled, going 0-16 in the five games in three days due to rainouts. Last night he showed up big with a combo meal, launching a 406 footer and an extra 104 MPH single. That was his 11th homer and eighth steal on the year, the eight steals being a career high. I do not believe he is rosterable in most leagues right now, with his lower average and increased K%. Give him some time and see if he can come back to something closer to 2019.

José Altuve (HOU): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB.

Altuve debuted 10 years ago from yesterday’s game and what a way to celebrate 10 years in the Majors. He added two more dingers to his season total which is on track to blow by his single season best of 31 in 2019. The key to his success looks to be his pull rate. He’s pulling the ball 50% of the time and has only gone oppo 13.7% of the time. His hard hit rate is a career best 38.7% though, and he’s hitting less ground balls. This all combines to the wonderful spray chart on his Savant page. The left field fence is just peppered with home run dots.

Josh VanMeter (ARI): 3-3, 2B, 3B, R, 3 RBI.

VanMeter was a part of some history two days ago with a slew of back to back home runs across the league. Yesterday, though, he didn’t add any more dingers and was just a home run away from the cycle. VanMeter has been up and down from the minors this season and has been coming off the bench most of the time he’s up. There is not a reason to have him on any fantasy team for the foreseeable future.

John Nogowski (PIT): 2-3, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB.

Nogowski was exclusively pinch hitting while with the Cardinals earlier this season. Once he was designated for assignment the Pirates swooped in and he’s been starting at first since July 5th. Over that span he’s been raking, slashing .438/.491/.583 while striking out 15.1% of the time and adding five extra base hits including his first career dinger last night. He’s definitely one of the hottest bats that is most likely available but who knows how fast this candle will burn.

Randy Arozarena (TB): 2-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI.

The playoff powerhouse had been homerless since June 20th. Those 84 plate appearances were a huge struggle for Arozarena, slashing just .167/.274/.222 with five caught stealing and only 12 hits. Here’s hoping that last night was a kick off to a solid remainder of the year. He ripped a 110.5 MPH double and a 418 foot dinger.

Francisco Mejía (TB): 2-4, 3B, HR, 2 R, 5 RBI.

Mejía has been pulling back up duty behind Mike Zunino this season, so he’s not seeing much time at the plate. However, Zunino was removed from the game on the 19th with a hip injury. This may open the door for much more Mejía. There isn’t too much power in his bat but he’s only striking out at an 18.8% rate. I do not see him being of much value fantasy wise even if he’ll be playing everyday.

Connor Joe (COL): 2-5, 2B, HR, R, 2 RBI.

We got another first career home run last night! A 441 foot bomb to dead center at Coors does the trick. This 28 year old has been bopping around the minors from team to team with only an appearance with the Giants in 2019. He isn’t a bat to add unless he starts tearing pitchers apart.

Featured Imaged by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter)

Jim Chatterton

Jim has written for Razzball and now is a part of the Pitcher List staff. He is a Villanova alum and an eternally optimistic Mets fan. He once struck out Rick Porcello in Little League.

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